Headlines: August 18th, 2004

A new drive has been launched to recruit more NHS staff from underprivileged backgrounds. There will be nine schemes around the country aiming to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds become doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.Research shows that 74% of the medical school population come from the highest three social classes, although just 38% of the working age population is from this background. Asian ethnic groups are under-represented in applicants to nursing courses, and there is evidence that black and ethnic minority applicants have difficulty in securing course places. The project is part of AimHigher which is a joint initiative involving the Department for Education and Skills, HEFCE and the Learning and Skills Council, to widen participation in higher education and increase the number of people who have the ability and aspirations to benefit from it.

The scheme in London specifically targets African-Caribbean students and disadvantaged young people who have traditionally been excluded from career progression. It will work with teachers and parents to provide an understanding of the qualities, skills and qualifications that students will need to train in healthcare. The project being run in the North-West region will use mentoring and community engagement to encourage children from disadvantaged backgrounds to enrol in vocational healthcare training schemes.